There are thousands of volcanoes in Mexico of which many are very fascinating. One of the most interesting and the smallest is located in a suburb of the city of Puebla. The “Cuexomate Volcano” weighs about 40 metric tons and stands just 43 feet tall with a reach diameter of 75 feet. Its name Cuexocomate which comes from the Nahuatl language and it means a bowl. Cuexomate was created in 1664 as an offshoot parasitic cone during an eruption of a much larger volcano named Popocateptetl. Cuexocomate is an inactive volcano, yet nearby residents are concerned, since Popocatepetl has been increasing in activity over past years. If Popocatepetl were to erupt again, it is believed that Cuexcomate with its subterranean link could re-establish and the worlds’ smallest volcano suddenly becomes much larger.
The third largest mountain in North America is only a few hours from the Mexican City airport. Climbers from throughout the world looking for fresh and unlike experiences and an altitude that is higher than any in the United States, can fly to Mexico City and set personal altitude documentation on the Mexican Volcanoes.
Mexico has three major glaciated volcanoes:
- Pico de Orizaba (Citlateptl) 5700m 18,700ft
- Popocatepetl 5452m 17,888 ft
- Iztaccihuatl 5286m 17,342 ft
Popocatepetl began erupting in December of 1994 and thousands of residents were evacuated from the area. The evacuations have since been cancelled but it has been closed to climbers since then and it seems that it will remain closed for many years to come. As recent a May of 1996, the bodies of five climbers who had gone to film an eruption, were found. The cause of death has never been revealed.
For now, Izta is open for climbing although if Popo blows its top, you would not want to be in or near the cities of Puebla of Amecameca. Izta does have huts that are only several hours hike from the road. These huts are basic and undersized. At almost 16,000 feet they have a great view but beware of potentially fatal altitude sickness.
Pico de Orizaba is farther, being approximately 100 miles away. Pico de Orizaba is unaffected by eruptions of Popo. Traveling to Pico has its hazards. You must go through a dry trail that is about one foot wide and has a steep slope on each side. A slip on either side could put you inside the crater or down the side of the volcano. This hike will certainly tire you and it will also have you short of oxygen. There is no room for potential error so you must stay alert and use your ice axe.
Orizaba is the most far-flung while Pope is the most well-liked. The winter holidays are the most popular climbing days. While there, you can tour the many destinations in Mexico City and Puebla. Mexico City is at 7,200 Ft and Puebla is at 7,000 Ft. You can take in some relaxation, shopping eating and so much more.
These are only four of the thousands of volcanoes in Mexico yet all of these mountains are major glaciated peaks. There is certainly a minimum skill set for these peaks which include self-arrest skills, glacier travel experience and crevasse rescue practice. Most importantly, remember to enjoy.